Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Fleeing for their lives

Nasra tells the story of her escape.

We were living in Syria, we were happy.  My husband was working hard to provide for our needs.  But when the war started, there was less work.  One morning, my husband went out to find food for us  He went out, but he never came back.  For days, we searched for him.  My children kept asking me, where is father?  There was no food, no water, no electricity; we were desperate, and then the bombs were falling near us.  There was no safety, no other place we could go.  This is why we fled.  

Nasra and her children live in a hut made of scrounged material in Lebanon.  Nasra was later told her husband had been captured and killed along with a group of prisoners.  She hopes it's not true, that someday she will return to Syria and perhaps find her husband alive.  For now, she and her children survive, and nothing more.  She's been in the camp for five months.  Others have been there for more than two years.  Nasra reminds us that she and her family are just one of many in such distress.

So far, four million have fled the country with just the clothes on their backs and what they could carry.  More than half of those are children.  The world now struggles to provide help.  There are difficulties associated with receiving and assisting refugees.


Here in America, it's difficult to get an objective view from mainstream media.  Exaggeration and deliberate polarization is the rule, perhaps.  During an interview, NJ Governor Christie was pressed by the interviewer to make policy on camera.  The governor, semi-politely, explained that one might  choose a host of little examples, but what he was calling for was appropriate safeguards in the process of receiving refugees into the country.  The snipped that made it to the public was taken out of context.  As usual.

The typical response from the list of governors who've been headlined as opposing the refugees is actually just a call for due diligence in the process.  From MD Gov Hogan, "... until the U.S. government can provide appropriate assurances that refugees from Syria pose no threat to public safety."  Reasonable, and in line with DHS recommendations as well as public concerns.  That's not the media's portrayal, however.

From CNN under their headline:

More than half the nation's governors say Syrian refugees not welcome

Actually that's not what they said.  Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said the state would "put on hold our efforts to accept new refugees." "Michigan is a welcoming state and we are proud of our rich history of immigration. But our first priority is protecting the safety of our residents," he said in a statement.

According to CNN, Governor Snyder demanded that the Department of Homeland Security review its security procedures ....  No he didn't demand anything,  That's the media spin.  From his actual statement,  "My primary responsibility is to keep the people of Michigan safe.  That’s why I’ve asked to pause our efforts to bring more refugees to Michigan and requested the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to take a full review of the security clearances and procedures for all refugees who have the potential to be placed in Michigan."

"It's also important to remember that these attacks are the efforts of extremists and do not reflect the peaceful ways of people of Middle Eastern descent here and around the world," Snyder said.

It's discouraging that this too would be portrayed as a left-right contest, a Christian-Muslim conflict, a Rep-Dem issue, as though we all weren't of similar mind and heart.  We all agree that security is threatened.  We all agree that innocents are being killed.  We all agree that those fleeing for their lives need our help.  We all agree, when we have those moments of clarity, that as a nation, we can and will do our best in this complex world circumstance, to do what's right and just and necessary.  If we're wise, we'll do so with courage and principle, we'll rise above fear and selfishness to do our part, thoughtfully and with a good conscience.